Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A small conversation started up last week on The Cub Reporter about getting Nomar Garciaparra. I didn't realistically think it would be possible.

Now I am not so sure. I was listening to ESPN and they quoted Epstein I believe saying, "they might need to make a change just to make a change." I quickly looked over some Boston blogs and the local Boston media but couldn't find any quote along those lines.

Anyways they were discussing that Nomar Garciaparra is the only player they can really get some return value for, and he may be on his way out of Boston.

I am still skeptical that Boston would trade him. But my interest is perked now. I have no idea what we could offer, but maybe our scouts were looking at Nomar to see if he could help us down the stretch after his most recent injury.

We can only pray can't we Chuck? lol.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Game Notes: What was up with Dana Demuth's strike zone tonight? Early in the game Rusch was pitching on the outside corners and getting balls. Suddenly those pitches became strikes. An numerous occasions the ball was a good 2-3 inches off the plate and he was calling it a strike.

Patterson continues to have games of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly variety. The Good is taking a count to 3-2 and fouling off 5 pitches before doubling to tie the game at 1-1. The Bad is in that same inning he gets picked off 2nd base. The Ugly is when Patterson was running straight back on a fly ball to deep center only to have it bounce off his glove. Then we go back to the Good as he redeems himself with a 3-run HR. Basically a game like that lets the Patterson lovers and haters be completely correct and completely wrong about him at the same time.

Alou gets the award for worst acting job ever. A deep base hit to left field ricochets off Alou's glove and goes into the Ivy. Alou begins to dig around in the Ivy for a bit, then quickly raises his hands to try and get a ground rule double. It was kinda funny because we could clearly see the ball on the TV but Alou standing in front of it couldn't. The umpires didn't award the ground rule double so Alou went back to ripping up the Ivy. You could still see the ball but Alou was trying to burying the evidence with the torn up Ivy in a last desperate attempt to convince the Umps it was lost in the Ivy and they would call back the play.

Still the Cubs defense was horrible for this game. For most of the year they have been pretty solid. Martinez bobbled two 9th inning grounders, so that wasn't pretty to watch either.

Yet we still won. I was shaking my fist as Hawkins got the last out saying, Cubs win, Cubs win.

And so it begins.

Steve Finley hit his team-leading 19th home run and nearly hit another with a double off the center field wall in front of scouts from Boston and the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

With Hendry's remarks about not getting any position players, I will take that to the bank. However if we are truly looking at Steve Finley then wouldn't that just be classic Cubs mentality? Ignore Carlos Beltran, but send scouts and consider a deal for a 39 year old Steve Finley.

While he would be a marked improvement over Patterson for the short term, it wouldn't make any sense to the Cubs, and especially the fans. It would just show the Cubs and Hendry are incapable of getting a real deal done with a team not looking to give a player away. The only reason the Cubs will get Steve Finley, IF they do, is because he wont cost top prospects like Beltran would.

But I just think we had scouts looking at Boston and Az's bullpen.

The first snippet of Cubs trade rumors

Hendry's scouts are looking at several setup men that he could eventually seek in trade. If the Cubs fall further behind the Cardinals, that could influence when he makes his move. The Cubs' hope is that they will halt their slide and right the ship.

It's not earth shattering, but what do you expect? I hear the Orioles are entertaining offers for B.J. Ryan and Jorge Julio.

I wouldn't mind the lefty B.J. Ryan who has a 2.08 ERA and 52 SO's in 39 IP.

Forget about any bench or offensive help also.

"I don't know where you could get better bench players than we have," Hendry said, "and there is no reason to consider another starter if all of our starters are healthy. I also like the position players we have."

Without Todd Hollandsworth's heroics this would be the worst bench in baseball. So the best we can look forward to is a setup/bullpen arm? I can hear the collective sound of yawns across the Cub nation.

Many Cubs fans wonder why Wendell Kim still has a job. Dusty Baker lets us know why.

Baker looks at the blame game as a societal problem and believes coaches often are scapegoats for a player's lack of baserunning instincts.

"I've found a lot of coaches are getting blamed, just like a lot of teachers are getting blamed," he said. "Back in our day, if you didn't do well in class, your dad didn't want to hear it was the teacher's fault. Nowadays if a kid doesn't pass, the parents want to jump the teacher because their kid failed. Hey, man, I have to blame my kid, personally."

Part of the article does discuss how Baker thinks good base runners just know when they should go or not. And I agree with that 100%. However, when you see Wavin Wendel Kim swinging his arms towards home plate with a runner on second on a deep pop up to center field you have to wonder what in sam hell is he thinking?

Basically what Baker is saying, if the base runner looks at Kim for a decision to run or not and gets nailed by a mile at home plate, it is the player's dumb fault for putting his faith in the 3rd base coach.

A U.S. Marine is being held hostage in Iraq, and the Marines have sent an open letter to Al Qaeda.

To the terrorists currently operating in Iraq,

I see that you have captured a U. S. Marine, and that you plan to cut off his head if your demands are not met. Big mistake. Before you carry out your threat I suggest you read up on Marine Corps history. The Japanese tried the same thing on Makin Island and in a few other places during World War Two, and came to regret it. Go ahead and read about what then happened to the mighty Imperial Army on Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. They paid full price for what they did, and you will too.

Sorry to delve off into this, but read the whole thing. The terrorists have no idea what they are about to unleash if they murder this U.S. Marine. As a history major and studying military history, to go along with being a former Army soldier, this letter really moved me.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Should Houston of waited 3 days to pull the trigger on the Houston deal, like Ivy Chat suggests?

Because George Steinbrenner was so concerned about the Red Sox acquiring Beltran, Cashman had to keep his hand in the fire, although he preferred monitoring the pitching market. Kansas City wouldn't accept infielder Robinson Cano to go with catcher Dioner Navarro. The only way their three-way would have worked was to trade Navarro and Gordon, which the Yankees refused to do, so late Wednesday night Baird told the Yankees that if the Astros and Dodgers three-way deals were indeed dead, then Beltran was headed to Boston for Shoppach and Youkilis.

Hunsicker saved the Dotel deal. Theo Epstein was disappointed. "I still believe our package was better than what they received," said one Boston official. "But we'll move on."

I dont think Houston had much choice but to get the deal done as soon as possible with Boston and New York battling for Beltran in their own ways. This is exactly why the Yankees win championships and the Cubs don't. The Yankees will fight tooth and nail to prevent or drive up the price of a player to a division rival. They always have their fingers in the pot stirring it around.

Meanwhile the Cubs haven't even turned on the stove, and do nothing about a division rival getting an impact player like Beltran. I know we dont have the position prospects to float around but you cant tell me K.C. wouldn't drool to get its hands on Angel Guzman or Andy Sisco? I guess its crying over spilt milk.

How bad were the last 6 games?

The Cubs, like so many other teams, were left muttering to themselves as they tried to decipher Takatsu's stuff.

"They say things like, 'What the heck was that pitch?"' Sox catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "I just basically say, 'Changeup,' and they laugh. When Sammy was hitting, [Aramis] Ramirez was standing real close and watching and giving funny looks. They get surprised by the difference in speeds. They kind of seem like eephus pitches."

Mr. Zero confused the Cubs, and we fans are saying will the real Cubs team please stand up?

Want a run down of Baker as a poor game time manager?

Maddux threw 98 pitches (second-most this season) while allowing season-highs of 11 hits and nine runs. It's not that Baker allowed Maddux to throw too many pitches, it's that he let the game get out of reach, saying "our bullpen was short[staffed]."

You always play for TODAY. That is basic managing 101. If you know your pitcher doesn't have it like Maddux did you need to get someone else in the game before it gets out of hand. You cant worry about tomorrow.

Also it is not like we had a game on Monday, so I have no idea what the hell Dusty Baker was thinking. This is why he is hated just as much as he is loved. He is probably the worst game time manager I have ever seen. But he can pamper all-stars and washed up players like no one else. Maybe he should start learning baseball instead of social skills, so he can be a more complete manager.

Phil Rogers sums it up well.

My, that was fast.

Hard to believe it was only last Wednesday night that the Cubs were four innings away from a tie for first place.

The article has more to do with the Whitesox. But just when you thought the Cubs were turning the corner after the Anaheim, A's and Houston series, we play like crap in our next 6 games and look like the old bumbling Cubs.

The 6 most important games of the year to date. Now we are 5 games out.

Disappointing weekend series against the Sox as we drop 2 of 3. Not many bloggers are commenting, but just flashing across the news is that the Coalition Provisional Authority has handed over full sovereignty in Iraq. Congrats to the Iraqi people in their move towards freedom and democracy.

MSNBC, and Fox a reporting it straight up, meanwhile CNN is spinning it like the Al Sadr episode. That the handover is a pre-cursor to a power struggle/civil war. Blah blah blah.

Come on CNN be happy for the Iraqi people for 5 freakin minutes. No wonder their ratings are hitting all time lows.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

From an article by Jay Mariotti the day before, that I missed.

The chirpy provocateur placed one hand around his throat, then the other. Ozzie Guillen was peering into the stands at Wrigley, merrily reminding Cubs fans that their team had gagged the night before. Normally such a batting-practice gesture would be forgotten like a wee-hours Clark Street bender, but this wasn't mere idle razzing.

No, this was the day after the Bartman game, when the Mourning After converged with a thick sense of impending doom, and there was that twerp who used to play for the White Sox, twisting a red-hot poker into Cubdom's deepest wound. "You're quiet tonight," yapped Guillen, then the third-base coach of the Florida Marlins. "You aren't yelling 'Cubs! Cubs!' anymore.

"You guys scared?"

Let the story serve as octane for any Cubs fan who is yawning today, feeling smug and blase about the weekend series on the South Side. All by himself, the Blizzard of Oz will serve as a lightning rod for anyone who thinks the Cubs-Sox showdown is an overhyped intramural taffy pull.

I get a kick out of that nick name, "The Blizzard of Oz." I didn't realize Ozzie did that last year, may my intense hatred of the Whitesox grow even more.

On the other hand let me pull a line from the movie Fight Club.

"I am Jack's complete lack of surprise."

Nothing much surprises me anymore about the Sox and their fans.

Jay Mariotti talks about some of the action off the field.

Oh, and you had the ever-growing chip on the shoulder of Ozzie Guillen. In a funny interlude, the Blizzard of Oz took subtle offense at a suggestion by an enemy official - in an interview room at U.S. Cellular Field, mind you - that it was time to move on to the Cubs' portion of the postgame press conference. Some nerve, huh?

"Dusty Baker is waiting, barked Sharon Pannozzo," Cubs media-relations boss.

"Ohhhhhhhhh," said Guillen, Sox manager and grand marshal of the South Side inferiority complex, getting up to make way for the Rev. Johnnie B.

Heheheh, read the whole article.

When your good,your good.

Most players who aren't at their best, well, they find a way to stink. But Mark Prior is so good that when he is less than his best, he's still hard to beat.

That is the sign of a truely great pitcher. Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Jason Schmidt, Roger Clemens, all have that ability to pitch a good game when they dont have their best stuff, and Mark Prior can be added to that list as well.

Friday, June 25, 2004

This made me scratch my head.

Lineup switch: First baseman Derrek Lee batted second for the fourth time this season. It's a spot in the lineup that Lee likes.

"In the American League, the leadoff and second hitter can be the RBI men," Baker said. "Most of time in our league, the eighth and ninth hitters don't get on like they do in the American League. Also, Michael Barrett (who normally bats second) hasn't been going too good lately. He's 0-for-something (0-for-13). If you're 0-for-somethng, those 0-fors add up quick."

Barrett normally bats second, huh? Only 68 AB's of his 205 have been in the #2 slot. Yes recently he has been moved up to the #2 slot and he hasn't done to well, he is only hitting .250. From the #7 and #8 slots Barrett is batting somewhere around .310 in 115 AB's.

But Barrett doesn't normally bat second. Do these writers even check the facts before they write something?

From the truth file.

Why Grudz doesn't play SS.

If the Cubs had rallied to tie the game Wednesday in the ninth, Grudzielanek would have had to play shortstop in the bottom of the inning. But while many would like to see Grudzielanek starting at short and Walker at second, Baker reiterated that Grudzielanek physically can't move back to shortstop. Ramon Martinez is one of the few players capable of starting at both middle-infield spots, he said.

Hollandsworth's playing time.

Todd Hollandsworth, who played well when Sammy Sosa was on the disabled list, will be back in the lineup today as a designated hitter against the White Sox.

In 94 AB's as Sosa's replacement Todd Hollandsworth hit .245, with 3 HR's and 13 RBI. His OBP was .317, slugged .394, and he had .711 OPS. Thats playing well? Stick to pinch hitting Holly.

After the game, the 33-year-old Ordonez was unable to be consoled by his teammates as he sat in the players lounge. With Ricky Gutierrez getting ready at Class AAA Iowa, it's possible Ordonez is nearing the end of the line with the Cubs, who signed him May 12 and brought him up from the minors May 28.

Ohh yeah, cant wait for Gutierrez! Its just Rey Ordonez Volume 2. Same bad player, that leaves the same bad after taste.

Can we please bring up Brendan Harris and not Gutierrez? I can forgive the errors to a guy kinda new to the position and a prospect. I cant stand guys brought in to be defensive stop gaps and can't even fill that role. I am going out on a limb here, but I am also pretty sure Harris can atleast hit better than .220. Unlike Ordonez and Gutierrez this year.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I have to agree 100% with Ivy Chat.

This trade makes me sick. This is Rolen all over again. This is Hendry not doing what's needed: The huge move.

When I heard Beltran was on the block, I said that if Jim Hendry didn't swing a deal for Beltran it would be a catastrophic failure on his part. Just not dealing for him is bad enough, but letting him go to your division rival without a fight is short sighted at best.

I am a pretty big Corey Patterson homer, and say go with the prospects instead of crusty veterans a lot. But god damn, this is Carlos Beltran, a 5 tool player ready for prime time NOW!

And I thought exactly what Ivy Chat thought. This is Scott Rolen all over again. I am sick and tired of this franchise picking up the #2 or #3 best guy. We cant get Thome because we have Choi, Choi sucks so we get Derek Lee. Nice, but not as good as Thome. We cant get Rolen because we are afraid he wont sign with us. A few years later we get Am-Ram, nice runner up prize but Rolen is way better. We cant get Jeff Kent, Bobby Hill is the future, he sucks so we get Grudz and Walker. Nice, but Kent is better than those 2 combined. Now Carlos Beltran comes along, we cant trade for him, we have Corey Patterson, and we are afraid he wont sign with us. Patterson is ok, but he doesn't hold a candle to Beltran.

If this franchise had the balls and signed just Thome and Rolen from our past we would be celebrating as World Champions already. Those kinds of players are the difference between sitting at home and winning it all. And we just let #4 slip through our fingers.

Kudos to the Astro's for not being afraid, and I bet you Carlos Beltran will resign to be a Houston Astro this off-season just like Scott Rolen did with the Cardinals. The Astro's wont have to be burdened with Craig Biggio's contract much longer.

Listening to the Cubs game on WGN and Chip Carey says Houston is going to have a press conference later tonight. More than likely Carlos Beltran will be announced as the new Houston Astro.

The stakes just went up in the NL Central.

Looks like it is true. Very close.

Son of a.....I hate seeing rival teams getting impact players like Beltran. Especially adding him to that offense.

Update: The deal is official now.

Jay Mariotti talks about the current Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.

But now Cardinals Nation understands the Cubs are real contenders, not that it has stopped those tricky St. Louisans from maintaining the razzing. Before the series opener, as the Cubs stretched, a song came over the speakers with this lyric: "When's the last time the Cubs won a pennant? Year after year after year after year after year." If that's rude, consider the scoreboard cap race that ridicules the Cubs by using only two caps, making it easy to determine which cap the ball is under. "I think the cap game is pretty amusing," Baker said. "What are they saying, that we're not very smart?" Then there was the Cardinals Gameday magazine, which features a cover story on an all-time Cub nightmare, the Lou Brock-Ernie Broglio trade.

Deep down, though St. Louis must respect the Cubs. For all the studs in the lineup -- Pujols, MVP candidate Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria -- the Cubs have a more rounded club. Because they're highly competitive, thanks to Baker and general manager Jim Hendry, the rivalry is better than ever.

To the Cardinals the Cubs are the amusing little team from the north. The little kid that tags along and tries his best to hang in there but eventually fails to keep up.

The Cardinals will rub the Cub franchise on the top of the head and say, "Better luck next year kid." Only to walk off muttering under their breath, "Fat chance of that ever happening."

Now the Cubs are showing themselves to be as good if not better than the Cardinals and the amusing little insults look more like a desperate attempt to remind the Cubs of their history. Its the Cardinals whispering into the Cubs ear from behind saying, "Remember who you are. A loser. What makes you think you can compete with us? So why even try?"

It may of been cute then, but it is motivation to pound that smug smile off the Cardinals faces now. Go Cubs!

Life in a Cubbies world.

There are Sox fans who will tell you that this is a kind of class warfare, that they are the blue-collar, "real" baseball fans, while the Cubs are supported by a very large group of Yuppies and dilettantes, people who have merely caught onto a trend, albeit a trend that has had unfortunate staying power.

This is, of course, a generalization. There are Cubs fans who are every bit as salt-of-the-earth, basic ball fans as the next person. There are also Cubs fans who are Yuppies and dilettantes. The precise numerical breakdown of these two groups is not absolutely known, but the unquestionable fact is that, one way or the other, Cubs fans greatly outnumber Sox fans.

Pretty good article setting up the Cubs vs Sox rivalry.

ESPN's page 2 runs down the contenders and pretenders.

Prediction: Houston, despite the fact that its five games back this morning, despite the fact that its ballpark has too much Anita Bryant in its name and the Astros' uniforms look like too much jammies from Gymboree, and because of the fact that the pressure in Chicago will keep ratcheting up as the summer wears on, will take it. The Cubs will win the wild card.

Hmmm surviving without Prior, Wood, and Sosa for extended periods of time is pressure. Sure it would be nice to win it all this year, but we are young enough to make an extended run for many years. Pressure is what Houston is under now. With an aging team built to win now, not later. I think it will be a tad reversed.

And in the same article, what happens when the "real" Yankees show up?

The Yanks have had kids from the local American Legion league taking turns in the rotation, they've survived Derek wandering the desert like Lawrence of Arabia, they've gotten by without the real Jason Giambi, and in fact the entire offense has yet to wake up (only Jorge Posada has an OPS above .900). Still, they're 19 games over .500 and 4.5 up on the Red Sox right now. Good god, what happens if they start to click? Boston better hope Manny never slows down and Pedro holds up, because holding off Oakland for the wild card is looking like its only hope.

Thats the power of superstar players and when you put them together. Even when they are slumping or down they are still better than 99% of the players in baseball. And if they all start clicking? Only the power of Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood, and Matt Clement can even attempt to contain that much destruction.

No offense to Hudson, Zito, Mulder, or Schilling and Pedro.

Phil Rogers has his All City Team. You knew a sympathy pick had to be thrown in some where right?

Starting pitchers: Mark Buehrle, Sox; Matt Clement, Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux, Cubs

Notice anyone missing? It was supposed to be Mark Prior and Kerry Wood carrying the Cubs, of course, but they have been healthy enough to make only 11 starts between them. That hasn't stopped Larry Rothschild's rotation from compiling a 3.47 earned-run average, the best in the majors. Zambrano is holding opponents to a .214 batting average, Clement has worked at least six innings in 12 of his last 13 starts and Maddux has recovered from a shaky start by putting together a 3.12 ERA the last 12 times out. He has moved within five victories of 300 and has a chance to win 15-plus games for the 17th consecutive season. Pretty good fifth starter, huh?

Buehrle's 7-2 record is largely the result of his run support, but, as usual, he has been a pleasure to watch. He's giving up more hits than usual but allowing fewer walks. His workload always causes concern, but he has increased his ratio of strike outs per nine innings to 7.0 from 4.6 in 2003.

Thats the only good thing Phil could say about Buehlre, that he is 7-2. His ERA is 4.49, he has given up 122 hits in 104 IP, and opponents are hitting .293 off him. But he has been healthy.

The rest of the list is mostly Cubs also.

UPDATE: Cubs Now! has a take on this.

Read it and the most startling thing is his listing Mark Buehrle as the best starting pitcher in Chicago (as well as Zambrano fourth). How is that justified?

I dont think Phil was listing it as #1, #2, etc. Just happened to be that way when he wrote it.

Also note that he lists Hawkins as a set up guy. Umm, not for the last three weeks or so, Phil. Pure Hackery.

To Shingo Takatsu's credit he is living up to his nick name of Mr. Zero. The first thing most people will say is who in the hell is he? He is Japans career saves leader and features a nasty changeup. He didn't come over with the media attention that Nomo, Ichiro or the Matsui's did. Currently in 27 IP he has a 1.00 ERA, .70 Whip, a .133 OppBA, and only given up 12 hits. Basically the man is near unhittable, I would want him as our closer also.

Big Red C has a run down of last nights game.

Actually, I did feel a bit sorry for Dusty Baker. Watching his desperate use of different bullpen parts was like observing a medieval physician attempting a hemophilia cure with multiple varieties of leeches - right down to the puzzled look that said, "I don't understand why they're still bleeding!"

Watching Mercker pitch last night was not fun.

Ok back to blogging. Houston is seriously after Carlos Beltran.

The Astros nearly were part of a blockbuster three-team deal Tuesday night that would have brought Kansas City Royals center fielder Carlos Beltran to Houston and sent closer Octavio Dotel to the Oakland Athletics. A minor-leaguer, believed to be catcher John Buck, also was part of the deal. The trade fell apart when Kansas City and Oakland couldn't agree on their portion of the deal. But numerous team sources confirmed Wednesday that the Astros, along with a handful of other clubs, are still pursuing Beltran.

Houston is going to trade just about anything for Beltran. I still think San Diego will get him in the end.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rickey Gutierrez is coming! He was promoted yesterday from A to AAA ball after hitting a blistering .167 in 6 AB's and .175 with the Mets this year, until he was released.

Meanwhile Brendan Harris is getting work at SS in AAA and is hitting .327.

Gee I wonder who gets to the majors first?

Problems with Matt Morris? Caught this via Redbird Nation.(he caught it via Will Caroll)

There's rampant speculation that he has a shoulder injury. The loss of velocity -- he's establishing his fastball in the high 80s -- sure supports this. The smooth mechanics and normal arm slot make me think it's a rotator cuff rather than labrum. Keep an eye on this.

Sounds just like Joe Borowski's injury. Hmmmm interesting. Could be very damaging to the Cardinals if he goes down for an extended period of time.

View From the Bleachers breaks down what the Cubs might be looking to trade and trade for.

Matt Clement is the one name that you could see in trade talks. With the quality pitching put in by Glendon Rusch, Clement becomes expendable, especially because of his contract demands next year. Prior, Wood, Zambrano, and Maddux are locks to be here. With Guzman on the way, Rusch could serve as an acceptable stop gap until Guzman arrives next year.

Prediction - As much as it pains me to say it, I look for Matt Clement to be pitching somewhere else down the stretch. I think it would be a huge mistake but the Cubs to rely entirely on Rusch, but you have to get something for Clement before you lose him. With the Phillies and Yankees struggling with injuries to their rotation, both could be suitors for the young right hander down the stretch. I wouldn't be surprised to see Clement go to the Yankees with Mark Grudzielanek in a package deal. It would be a great investment for the Yanks and not cost them in the long run.

If your a contending team you DON'T need to trade someone because you might lose them in free agency.

I was reading Peter Gammons six trades that made sense, and it re-kindled the crazy side of my brain trade thoughts.

GM Terry Ryan and the entire Minnesota organization have done a remarkable job contending for three straight years, with one more playoff series won than the Astros and Rangers have in their combined histories. But keeping the club afloat with a limited payroll and some very good players like Torii Hunter ($8 million per year) is difficult and will be treacherous this winter, which is why it will be difficult for them to take on any contracts.

With Hunter, Doug Mientkiewicz, Joe Mays and Shannon Stewart, they already have close to $25 million in commitments for 2005. Cristian Guzman has an option for $5.25 million that the Twins are unlikely to pick up. Brad Radke and Corey Koskie will be free agents as well at season's end.

And check their list of arbitration eligibles: Jacque Jones (fifth year eligible, coming off making $4.35 million this season), Kyle Lohse, Joe Nathan, J.C. Romero, Carlos Silva, Johan Santana, Luis Rivas and Matthew LeCroy. That many players means they'll have to find replacements at second base, shortstop and third base.

I would think along the lines of sending Moises Alou, Mark Grudzielank, Francisco Beltran, and Matt Clement to Minn for Shannon Stewart, Christian Guzman, Brad Radke and Joe Nathan.

Why would Minn want to get older? Who the hell knows its my crazy thought. In all Minn would move $20.4 million in Payroll and the Cubs $18.3 million.

Minn isn't going to resign Radke or Guzman, and they have a glut of talent OFer's. We would lose Radke at the end of the year much like Clement but atleast we might be able to pull some other players that might stick around.

Shannon Stewart would replace Moises Alou and give us the top of the order hitter we need. Minn has a glut of OF talent and Alou would only play half a season on astro turf(or DH) and then get released. Michael Cuddyer would probably take over in LF for Minn in 2005. Christian Guzman is an expensive risk if you pick up his option, but he can get a half season audition much like Am-Ram had last year to see what he can do.

Joe Nathan would be the power arm we need to add to the bullpen and return Hawkins to his best role, setup man.

If Minn is playing .500 ball around the break, the deal looks pretty good. If they are contending for the division lead it looks much less appealing.

Of course just throw out Beltran and Nathan if Minn didnt want to deal its closer(which I wouldn't do if I was Minn GM). The main point is the deal doesnt hurt either team, it might improve them in different areas, but doesnt hurt either team. The only player I care about getting and keeping after this year is Shannon Stewart. We have Lee, Am-Ram and Sosa, for the heart of our order, what we don't have are players for #1 or #2 spot. Stewarts addition solves the lead-off spot and if we move Grudz, solves the second base job and #2 hitter slot.

Imagine a Cubs team with 2 guys in the #1 and #2 slots who don't strike out a ton, hit around .290-.300, and have OBP around .350, consistently day in and day out. No more shuffling up Martinez/Barrett/Ordonez/Patterson/Macias in these spots ever again unless it is a day off or someone gets injured.

Hmmm maybe Ivy Chat should add Stewart to his wish list.

Chances of this trade happening? Slim to none, like I said the crazy side of my brain. Flame away.

Patience is a virtue.

They'd stood by through decades of mediocrity, a history of obtuse transactions and last season's playoff rush clipped five outs short of the World Series.

If there were a trait Cubs fans no longer wanted to embody in 2004, it was patience.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Hawkins is converting saves, but he has been a little shaky.

Hawkins has converted five of six save chances since Joe Borowski was placed on the DL. He's inherited leads of three or more runs in four of his save tries. In his only attempt at protecting a one-run lead he blew the save. On the plus side, he's issued only one walk in his last 27.2 innings. It was control that led to his downfall as closer in Minnesota.

It is good he isn't walking that many people. I just wish with a 3-run lead he would shut the door, instead of letting them have 2 runs and then getting the save.

Since assuming the closers role Hawkins ERA has risen to 2.25, up from around 1.25. And in those 5 of 6 save chances his ERA is 3.97. Not exactly dominating, but leaps and bounds above Borowski's 8.00 ERA.

It will be intersting to see how Hawkins responds when given more 1 run leads to protect. He is not always going to have 3 runs to work with.

Michael Barrett is having a season we all hoped he would have. This however is where fantasy baseball can help sometimes in projecting out a players performance during the season.

Yahoo Fantasy Baseball has an article from called Trend or Mirage, which discusses what the future usually holds for catchers during the season.

In addition, this week's Trend and Mirage broaches a very simple question: What in the world has gotten into major league catchers? Nothing against Michael Barrett, but where does the .259 career hitter get off with a .313 average, eight homers, 36 RBI, and 22 runs in mid June?


A closer look at the split statistics of games most productive catchers reveals that the physical demands of catching in the majors are so arduous that most backstops cannot sustain their offense over the course of an entire season. In his career, Pudge has hit 27 points higher before the All-Star break and has 54 more home runs and 209 more RBIs before the midsummer classic.

Similarly, Mike Piazza has hit 12 points higher in the first half of the baseball season with 46 more dingers and 88 more runs driven in. Veteran Paul Lo Duca, currently sixth in the National League with a .343 average, hits .319 before the halfway point compared to .255 after it.

Even Jason Kendall, Javy Lopez, and Jorge Posada—three of the few catchers whose average has historically maintained or slightly improved after the All-Star break—have power totals that are far higher early in the year, just like Pudge and Piazza above.

That, of course, is a result of the fact that all of the players above have played in far more games in the first half of the season than in the second, when injuries and fatigue demand time off far more often. The six veterans above have played in a combined 4,023 games before the midpoint of the season and only 3,047 games after it.


As for Barrett, Cubs manager Dusty Baker may have gone too far after his receiver won Saturday's game with a two-run, walk-off double. He installed the catcher with a lifetime .315 on-base percentage in Sunday's leadoff spot, where he responded with an 0-for-5 effort. That could be the beginning of the end.

As the season goes on Barretts number will probably begin to tail off. If he finishes with anything above .270 it will be a much better improvement over other players from previous Cubs teams. In fact Barrett has done more this season to already put him ahead of Miller, Hundley, and Girardi combined over the last couple years.

I doubt his 0-5 in the leadoff spot was the beginning of the end, he is hitting well now, might as well go with it. But don't get disappointed if those numbers do drop off as the season goes on. Even the best catchers in the game cant do it.

Barrett has made a believer out of me, I never expected this much out of him. I can honestly say I was flat wrong about him. The most critical part of his game that I worried about early in the season was his defense and he has improved dramatically over the last couple months in that area.

I am testing out a tag board on the right hand side of the screen. Some of the fancy ones looked really cool, but apparently they want you to pay for them. I am too cheap for that, so the freebie gets a test spin.

Kerry Wood is still coming along slowly.

Said Rothschild: "I said we've only had one good [session on the] side, and we need to do a few more. Mechanically, it's important that he's sound. If he tweaks it again, then we're set back."

And in the strange qoute of the year from Dusty Baker.....

Baker said he doesn't "like tinkering" with the lineup. "But you've got to do what you've got to do to win games," he said.

Yeah OK, but I do agree with the last part.

Ivy Chat gives Carlos Zambrano his proper respect.

When reporters talk of having two #1 starters, they better mean Prior and the Big Zamboni. Anything else is insulting.

Very true.

Update: Keeping with the Zambrano theme from Daily Herald.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

How does my NL All-star picks and AL All-star picks stack up against ESPN's experts Tim Kurkjian and Phil Rogers?

I know, it doesnt really matter, go about your business.

And Another Thing! has a post up on today's 5-3 Cubs win. Including this....

Derrek Lee is... well, using the trite phrase en fuego doesn't do him justice. He is 11 for his last 14, has also walked twice, homered (today, a bomb onto Waveland), and has four RBI.

Hey, naysayers who looked down on the Lee-for-Choi deal when Hee Seop was so hot in April, let's look at a comparison now (stats complete through today):

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Lee 67 248 36 77 25 1 9 44 28 52 5 3 .310 .387 .528 .916 Choi 63 184 35 49 12 1 12 31 33 53 1 0 .266 .383 .538 .921

Man, you can't get too much closer than that. I am, however, particularly impressed with the 25 doubles that Lee has, which would translate to about 58 doubles in a full season. Furthermore, Choi has cooled off to what I would think is about his best level, while I think Lee might increase his power numbers.

Choi's numbers are still pretty good for a guy who has about 60 less AB's than Lee and is pretty much in a 80%-20% platoon. I posted at the end of May how Choi was making this deal look really bad for the Cubs, and I hoped Lee started his normal hot hitting to get some respect back. Here we are at June 20th and Lee is doing his normal hitting like his track record indicates.

I really like Hee Seop Choi, and I don't think we have even see his best yet. The Choi for Lee deal I have never been a big fan of, but I know we got a quality somewhat sure bet of a .270 hitter who can hit 30 HR's and knock in around 90 RBI.

But Derek Lee is on our team, and Hee Seop Choi is a Marlin. I am ecstatic about Derek Lee's play this month and for the season. And I am equally as happy with Choi's play as he is proving all those people wrong that he was a worthless bum after getting injured.

This trade is a win win for both teams. As neither team would be disappointed if they never did this trade. The Cubs could afford 6 million on Derek Lee, the Marlins couldn't and are getting just a good production for 300k.

Note: After struggling with a .221 average in May, Hee Seop Choi is hitting .300 for the month of June. Like I said, we haven't seen the best of Choi yet.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I think this pic captures todays game and how the Cubs seem to be getting more confident. Notice how happy Sosa is!

For the Todd Hollandsworth lovers saying he is the best thing since sliced bread.

He only batted .245 with 3 HR's and 13 RBI in 94 AB's as Sosa's replacement in RF.

As just a plain OFer his stats are little better, .257 with 4 HR's and 14 RBI.

This is what we are trying to get as many AB's as possible for?

Again Todd Hollandsworth is a mediocre OFer. When he started in the OF he blew chunks. His stats are being propped up on 14 AB's as a pinch hitter, which he is hitting .571, 9 AB's as a 1B, and 8 AB's as a DH.

Leave the man as a pinch hitter, that is obviously the place he is excelling at. Case in point, today's game against the Athletics. You have to admit Hollandsworth has been much more helpful to the Cubs coming off the bench in those 14 AB's than anything he did in the 105 as an OFer.

This Kiss of Death from Dusty Baker:

"We were pleased and impressed by what we saw," Baker said of Dubois. "He has come a long way."

So impressed he managed a whole 12 AB's, in what over a month? It is just Dusty's way of saying, we were impressed, but your still not better than Jose Macias. Thanks for playing the prospect game. Now shoooo go away, I have to figure out how to get Rey Ordonez some more at bats.

I think the last time Baker said he was impressed with a young player there names were Hill, Choi, and Cruz. So this means Dubois for Carlos Beltran right? -shrug-

Kerry Wood is making progress:

Kerry Wood threw off the mound again Friday, and he plans to face live batting Sunday as he tries to come back from the sore right triceps that has kept him out of action since May 11.

Wood, trying to be patient after setting himself back a couple of weeks ago by being too impatient, said the rehab is going well this time.

"It seems to get better every time,'' Wood said.

Sure hope so, we will need him at full strength for the remainder of the season.

Baysball lists Oaklands bullpen failures so far this season.

He probably should of held off on that, since Oakland lost again today in the bottom of the 9th, thanks to the Todd's and Barrett.

Good for us, really really god damn frustrating for Oakland.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Phil Rogers has a good article on the return of Sammy Sosa and makes a few good points.

They're better with Sosa in right, sure. Not only does he give them some thunder, but his return also allows Hollandsworth to move back to the bench, where guys like Jason Dubois and David Kelton have limited Baker's flexibility.

That may be true, but it was Baker handing out starts in the OF to Jose Macias over Kelton and Dubois. In the end Baker limited his own flexibility.

Even the Chicago Tribune is asking the question, "Should Hollandsworth move to CF? Or Keep Patterson in CF?"

Thank god most fans are using their heads as 70% say keep Patterson in CF.

Make sure you check out Athletics Nation and their open game thread to support the Cubs!.

It may sound strange to do this for a regular season series, but I wish Macha has arranged it so that Hudson, Mulder and Zito were going in this series to match up directly with the Cubbies staff. I think our boys would've loved the thrill of facing the pitching staff that SI called "The Best in Baseball." But I guess two out of three ain't bad, and Chicago is missing Wood, so I guess it works out.

Oh, and to make a surging team on a six-game winning streak even better, the North Siders get Sosa back today.

Sosa will still struggle in his return until he gets up to game speed. But this is going to be a great series.

A special message from Corey Patterson.

You fair-weather pinheads who've been booing me for the last month had better not have been cheering when I single-handedly slapped the Astros pitching staff all over Enron Field during our 5-4 win tonight.

Well not exactly, read Northside Lounges whole post. Very good.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A great win last night as the Cubs complete the sweep of the Astro's. We now move onto facing the Oakland A's. I invite you to check out Baysball for a view from the opposing team.

Get up early on Saturday for an epic pitching matchup. Mulder, who's from Illinois, taking on Prior, who looks like he's going to be a Cy Young contender for years. It's the best pitching staff in the AL taking on the third best staff in the NL to this point—so, of course, they'll all probably be high-scoring games.

Yeah well we still have a better team ERA than Oakland. 3.77 to Oaklands 3.93. So hah! hehe. It should be a very good series, dont miss any of it!

I caught this via Throws Like a Girl.

From Dan Patrick interview with Lance Berkman of the Houston Astro's.

DP: What's the toughest ballpark as far as fans heckling you?
LB: Wrigley Field. I'll probably get scalded for saying this, since people like Wrigley because it's nostalgic, but if they blew that place up it wouldn't bother me at all. People think it's a good hitter's park but it really isn't, because they keep the grass about knee-high in the infield and when the wind blows in you can't see. And the temperature's never comfortable -- it's either freezing cold or sweltering hot. It's just a tough place to play.
DP: What about the fans? Do they get on you?
LB: They do indeed.
DP: Give me a sampling.
LB: Well, a lot of what they say can't be repeated in a magazine or otherwise. They're definitely the most vulgar fans in the league.

Ohh come on now. Chicago fans are harmless, and so lovable. They cant possibly be vulgar. Ask Todd Hundley how amusing Cubs fans are when he let them try on his hat at a game. I think he might have us confused with Philly fans.

But I did find this highly amusing.

LB: Sometimes I just step in there and I'll see the first pitch and step out and go, "I have no chance."
DP: Give me the last pitcher you faced where you did that.
LB: Well, Randy Johnson, just about every time. You step in there and you just hope that maybe that day he's not on. But even if he's not it's still pretty unhittable. Kerry Wood can be that way.
DP: How many hits do you have against Randy Johnson?
LB: One.
DP: Did you ask for the ball?
LB: No. I wouldn't dare do that, he might hit me in the neck with the next one.

Ohh man that is too funny, hehe.

National League All-Star Picks

C - Johnny Estrada - Braves - A good move by the Braves in not resigning Javy Lopez so far as Estrada is hitting .332 with 38 RBI

Back up - Michael Barrett - Cubs - Finally living up to his hype of swinging a good stick. Batting .313 with 33 RBI

No Mike Piazza because he has more starts at 1B than C. The best offensive Catcher probably in the history of baseball is just another good hitter at 1B.

1B - Jim Thome - Philly - 20 HR's, 44 RBI, .320 BA = The best 1b in the NL.

Back up - Sean Casey - Cincy - Hitting .364 with 49 RBI and 51 Runs scored.

Honorable Mention - Lyle Overbay - Milwaukee - Hitting .349 with 49 RBI.

2B - Jeff Kent - Still the best offensive 2nd basemen in the NL. Hitting .298 with 10 HR's and 44 RBI

Back up - Todd Walker - Cubs - You know I had to show him some love right? It was really a tough decision with two other players with near identical stats. Mark Loretta of San Diego and Luis Castillo of Florida. In the end I went with who had the better OPS and it was Todd Walker who ironically has a better OPS than Jeff Kent.

3B - Scott Rolen - Cardinals - An MVP candidate so far into this season. Hitting .349 with 17 HR's and 67 RBI.

Back up - Aramis Ramirez - Cubs - Vinny Castilla is having a fine season in Colorado, but not even the thin air can help him beat out Am-Ram. Hitting .328 with 14 HR's, 49 RBI, and 51 Runs scored.

SS - Jack Wilson - Pirates - The wasteland of positions in the NL. Wilson is hitting .345 with 25 RBI. The only worthy candidate.

Backup - Barry Larkin - Cincy - No one else stands out, and the reports of Larkins decline seem to be on hold for the moment. Hitting .299 with 28 RBI.

OF - Barry Bonds - San Fran - Ohh big surprise on that one. Hitting .377 with a .628 OBP is enough to make it alone. Factor in 49 Runs, 18 HR's, and 39 RBI and you have the best player probably ever.

OF - Lance Berkman - Houston - Hitting .332 with 15 HR's and 50 RBI

OF - Bobby Abreu - Philly - Hitting .303 with 15 HR's and 44 RBI, ohh and he has 13 SB's also.

Back up - Ken Griffey Jr - Cincy - 18 HR and 51 RBI would make him a starter in my mind. If only he had a higher batting average than .259. Other than that Griffey is back.

Back up - Miguel Cabrera - Florida - No one else stood out, so I went with the young blood. Hitting .297 with 17 HR's and 44 RBI

SP - Tom Glavine - Mets - Another guy who was supposedly washed up. He is 7-3 on the season with a 2.03 ERA. Thats pretty damn good

SP - Carlos Zambrano - Cubs - Who would of thought Zambrano would be this good? With Wood and Prior out it has been Zambrano's chance to get some of the lime light and he has taken advantage. He is 7-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 81 strikeouts.

SP - Roger Clemens - Houston - 9-1 with a 2.46 ERA and 94 SO's for a 41 year old? Simply amazing.

SP - Jason Schmidt - San Fran - This guy is getting like no publicity. 8-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 94 SO's.

RP - Armando Benetiz - Florida - 35 IP, 30 SO's, 1.26 ERA, 24 saves. Best closer right now

RP - Danny Kolb - Milwaukee - Danny who? This guy is like the anti-closer. He doesnt strikeout people to get saves. In 25 IP he has 8 strikeouts. So his ERA must be around 3.00 or higher right? Noooo, it is 1.05 and he has 19 saves.

RP - Eric Gagne - Dodgers - Mister untouchable is well still pretty much untouchable. 1.65 ERA with 39 SO's in 27 IP. He has also only surrendered 14 hits in those innings.

This what I like to hear.

Baker shot down the idea of using Hollandsworth in center field for Corey Patterson. Hollandsworth hasn't played center since Sept. 15, 2002, when he was with Texas.

"He can play it, but can he sustain it and play at a quality we need in center field?" Baker said. "Corey's defense is a big part of our team, a big part of us winning. And Corey is our future too."

Thats right, and Todd Hollandsworth is a mediocre OFer with no future.

Corey Patterson has the right mind set.

Centerfielder Corey Patterson touched on that issue Wednesday night. Patterson's speed and ingenuity had played a big part in this victory. He had started the winning rally in the seventh with a bunt base hit, then stifled an Astros rally in the eighth with a superb running catch in deep, deep, deep left-center.

"Every team is going to have some adversity every year," Patterson said. "But it's how you overcome it. You can sit down and make excuses, 'Oh, we don't' have all our players,' and you can fold. Or, you can just keep playing well and have confidence in each other. And that's what we have. We really don't care who we run out there. We know that whoever Dusty (Baker) puts out there, we have a great chance of winning."

You can fold or keep trying. Thank god the Cubs decided not to fold going into Anaheim. They have really turned around their season in the last five days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Geez I didn't think it was this bad down in Houston.

They have been playing bad baseball as of late. Atleast it makes me feel better about the Cubs chances, hehe.

Cub Fan Nation comments on his superstitions.

3. Depending on how they're doing, I either wear a Cubs jersey during every game or go out of my way not to, if that hasn't been working.

Mine kinda applies to all my favorite teams. If the team is playing lousy I usually turn the game off, and most of the time it seems the team will attempt to come back and play well the rest of the game. It seems my presence in just watching the games jinxs my teams, lol.

Todd Walker says he isn't going to the bench without a fight.

"During the time when I wasn't getting any hits a week ago, Dusty and I sat down and he said 'I know you know Grud's coming back, there's nothing you can do about it,'" Walker said. "In my mind, I thought, 'Yeah, there is, you know?' So we'll see."

Walker came into Tuesday's game hitting .286 with 10 homers, 25 RBIs, 40 runs scored and a .373 on-base percentage, third among the current regulars. But the job belongs to Grudzielanek, as Baker explained to Walker.

Since the day Walker was signed he has been the best option at 2nd base, and he has proven that in his playing time. Projected over a full season Walker would have 101 runs, 25 HR's, and 63 RBI mostly from the leadoff spot. That is pretty damn good for a guy who should be batting #2 or #3.

But the single most important thing Walker does is work counts, like a leadoff hitter should do. Rickey Henderson always understood the role of the leadoff hitter. His job was to battle the pitcher at the beginning of the game so the rest of his team could judge how good the pitcher was that day. He said if he could get the pitcher to throw all of his out pitches and he struck out he did his job anyways. At least the team has an idea of what to expect.

Walker see's about 4.01 pitches per at bat this season and about 3.75 over his career which is pretty good.

Grudz last year saw about 3.53 pitches per at bat, and 3.43 over his career. To put that into perspective Patterson see's about 3.33, and Macias 3.53.

If you want to hurt the team you play Grudz, if you want to field the best team that makes you win, you play Walker. But it is never that simple in Dusty Town. Look for him to screw this one up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

American League All-Star picks

C - Ivan Rodriguez -Detroit - The man I have a secret love affair with. He is batting .358 with 45 RBI, to go along with gold glove defense.

Backup - Victor Martinez - Cleveland - In fantasy baseball I picked him 1 year too soon, and then forget about him this year. Leads AL catchers in HR and RBI with 10 and 47 and is batting .311.

1B - Paul Konereko - Whitesox - Suffered through a miserable season last year to bounce back and lead AL 1st basemen in HR's with 14 and #2 in RBI with 39.

Backup - Ken Harvey - Kansas City - When your batting .358 you deserve consideration.

2B - Mark Bellhorn - Boston - Huh? Yeah thats right Bellhorn. Leads all AL 2nd basemen in Runs, RBI, BB, and #4 in HR's.

Backup - Alfonso Soriano - Texas - Showing good power with 8 HR's and 34 RBI. SB's are missing but still having a solid season after a post season where the book was supposedly written on how to get him out.

SS - Carlos Guillen - Detroit - No Nomar, A-rod, Jeter, Tejada? Yep. Currently hitting .325 with 40 RBI and 47 Runs scored.

Backup - Miguel Tejada - Baltimore - You still have to give props to Tejada who leads AL short stops with 49 RBI. But still Guillen is having a better all around season to date.

Michael Young of Texas deserves consideration also

3B - Melvin Mora - Baltimore - Batting .359 with 41 RBI and a MLB leading 57 runs scored.

Backup - Alex Rodriguez - NYY - I wanted to take Hank Blaylock but A-rod is having the better over all season.

OF - Vladimir Guerrero - Angels - Your looking at the AL MVP as of right now. Hitting .349 with 15 HR's and 56 RBI.

OF - Manny Ramirez - Boston - Just another year for Manny as he is hitting .349 with 17 HR's and 46 RBI.

OF - Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle - In the midst of all the power hitters, Ichiro continues to carve out his niche in baseball. Hitting .333 with 35 Runs scored and 15 SB's. Still the best OFer in the AL.

Backup - Carl Crawford - Tampa Bay - 27 SB's leads the AL, and is batting .293.

Backup - Jose Guillen - Angels - Hitting .300 with 46 RBI.

SP - Curt Schilling, Mark Mulder, and Kenny Rogers - Schilling and Mulder are having their usual stellar seasons, but I have to vote for Kenny Rogers of Texas also. He is 9-2 with a 3.76 ERA.

RP - Francisco Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Eddie Guardado - Rivera has 26 saves and a 1.01 ERA. Eddie has a 0.92 ERA with 11 saves and Francisco Rodriguez is probably the best bullpen arm in the majors with 56 SO's in 36 IP with a 1.25 ERA.

I always like to get a perspective of how other fans/bloggers are thinking during a series.

I know Cubs fans as a whole get frustrated with the Cubs offense at times, but how can a Houston Astro's fan be complaining about their offense?

I don't expect to feel better after we go against Carlos Zambrano tonight. He doesn't give up any hits.

We can only hope.

Follow the link on his site to throws like a girl for more information on the struggling Houston offense.

MVN finally wised up and got a "real" fan to write for Reds Roundup. Adam Bartel is a much better improvement over the Cubs jealous Charles Rector.

I hope Charles is taking notes.

Will Carroll had an interesting post on what the Cubs could offer for Carlos Beltran.

I knew after that post that the GM for K.C. was looking to fill 3 of the 5 positions he was looking for in a trade of Beltran. CF, 3rd, SP, C, and 2nd.

In that scenerio we had a legit shot of aquiring Beltran. Not so any more.

"There are four teams that we've identified that have the combination of the young catcher and third baseman we're looking for," says Baird. "Those are our biggest areas of need. What we're doing is moving on to 2005. We'll put David DeJesus in center field. Our pitching should be coming along; Jimmy Gobble has been good, so has (Zack) Greinke, we'll have Runelvys Hernandez back for Opening Day (in 2005), Miguel Asencio in May (of '05). So we're hoping to get a third baseman who can play next year and a catcher who can break in with Benito Santiago. We'll see how it plays out with those four teams."

No the Cubs are not one of those teams. In fact the Cubs have expressed zero interest and said they werent going to trade Patterson anyways.

I have wanted Beltran, and honestly it has been a fans dream all season. I think we can finally put this dream down as dead and buried. Beltran will not be in Chicago unless a miracle happens and the K.C. GM suddenly goes stupid.

Sammy's rehab is going well.

"If it keeps going the way it is, he'll be activated Friday," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.


In the Cubs never ending quest to sign every single mediocre infield talent in the majors instead of looking at their own prospects, the Cubs have signed Ricky Gutierrez to a minor league deal.

What are the chances he gets called up next?

UPDATE: "He thinks he can still play and thinks he might be able to contribute to a club in the second half of the season," Hendry said of Gutierrez. "If he can help us, that will be fine. He gives us a quality veteran waiting at Iowa. If it's not going to work out for us down the road, then we won't stand in his way."

Coming soon to the Major Leagues.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I have waited a long time to tell the Jose Macias lovers, "I told you so." Today is that day. If any of you read other Cubs blogs you will notice how Corey Patterson gets blasted for his poor batting and needs to be sent to the minors or traded.

Meanwhile an even worse hitter who manages to get starting time over the likes of David Kelton or Jason Dubois continues to play.

Today Jose Macias went 0 for 7 in the Cubs 6-5 win over the Angels in 15 innings. His average dropped down to .263. Patterson's average is .264. To go along with Macias .263 BA, he sports a very nice .263 OBP. Which means in around 100 AB's this year he has yet to draw a walk. Is he still a "great" pick up by Jim Hendry? Is having a .263 OBP good for even class A rookie ball?

Yet Jose Macias is the best option to get starting time in the Cubs out field from our entire organization? Jose Macias is the best player we can play? For some reason I just dont believe Jose Macias is the best player the Cubs could find to start games in the OF and suck up AB's.

What we have on our hands is another Lenny Harris. And today that prophecy came true. Since Corey Patterson is the standard for lousy play by most people, today you get to eat one of your own and finally admit Jose Macias is the worst player Jim Hendry could of signed to suck up AB's for this team. Macias needs to get waived and TODAY.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Baker is getting tired of people complaining about his pitchers pitch counts.

"What people don't understand is I left 'Z' in as long as I did because No. 1, he was throwing good," Baker said. "No. 2, he's strong as a bull; and No. 3, because we don't have any days off. We got three tough days here, four in Houston, three (against Oakland) when we get back home, three more against St. Louis and three against the (White) Sox, all offensive clubs."

All perfectly valid reasons. However we are carrying 12 pitchers on the roster. We have some arms in the bullpen that get hardly anywork. That 12-2 game was a chance to get them some innings.

People wouldnt be upset if it was a 4-2 game and Z was left in. Its like football and you have a huge lead. The coach will then lift his starters in the 4th quarter and get his subs some more playing time. When you have chances to rest your starters you do it, because you dont know when you might be able to again.

Borowski has a slight tear in his rotator cuff.

Obviously it's not good news," Hendry said. "We all felt that there must have been something wrong with Joe, and this time it looks like he'll be able to avoid surgery and help us after four to six weeks of trying to rehab the shoulder and get his strength back."

I have been hard on the Cubs training staff since the Prior injury. I think they dropped the ball on this one as well. It was no secret that Borowski wasn't the same pitcher in spring training this year.

Some people will say it is up to Borowski to let the team know if he is injured or not. Well yes and no. Its up to our training staff to examine him and take him in for tests to determine why his velocity is down. If his medical examines are all clear, then you can just say its a dead arm. No biggie, he will be fine. Atleast you eliminate the injury angle. That is preventive medicine, that is what a trainer is supposed to do. To look out for the best interests of the athlete.

I hope he recovers and returns to his old form in August, I don't want Joe Borowski ending his career with fans booing him. He has already come a long way in his career, and should be proud.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

It appears the tomato theory is turning out to be true over at And Another Thing!

I'll let you in on a secret. Howard showed up late, with a sandwich of his own from Jimmy John's (I hadn't asked him to bring one today) and he ceremonially dropped a tomato piece on my scorecard, right in the fifth inning.

You're saying, no, the Cubs scored the ten runs in the fourth inning, and you'd be right.

But by the time they reached the tomato square, which was at Derrek Lee's position, they had already batted around, and Lee's homer was the tenth run of the inning.

So, Howard and I are now completely convinced of the Tomato Luck. We are not certain whether it can be any tomato, or whether it has to be one from Jimmy John's. We decided not to take any chances for a while, and keep the Jimmy John's luck going, which we will continue next week when the Cubs return home against the A's, and when Sammy Sosa, if all goes well, will return to the lineup.

Yeah better stick with Jimmy John's, check out his whole post on todays game.

When you go see a specialist its usually not good. Borowski's tests are in.

"There is some damage in the shoulder," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Thursday. "The MRI, as we all know, can be inconclusive. We'd prefer for Joe to see Dr. Yocum and take the right approach on his rehab."

Looks like alot of people will be saying, "I told you so."

In the same article it mentions Kerry Wood, and its not exactly encouraging.

Kerry Wood threw from flat ground on Thursday, and if all goes well he could throw off a mound this weekend. Wood was rehabbing from an inflamed right triceps.

"He had a little discomfort finishing his throws," Hendry said of Wood. "We've been told by three doctors that there's no structural damage. I think all of us have had inflammation at some level. It doesn't go away completely until you give it time.

He is pitching which is good, but he still has some discomfort which is bad. Still no projection of his return.

Sosa will be heading to the minors for rehab.

He's expected to play at Double-A West Tenn this weekend in hopes he can rejoin the Cubs in Houston sometime next week, or by June 18 at the latest.

Triple-A Iowa is on the road this weekend, and the Cubs weren't about to pad the attendance of rival Oklahoma City when they could help out one of their own affiliates instead.

Also Sosa cut short his batting cage time due to his sore back. No idea how this might affect him going to AA.

Cubs facts.

Fielding as a team the Cubs rank #2 overall in baseball.

Batting average #14.
OBP #22.
RBI #14.
Runs #17
BB #23

But we are #5 in HR's! Yeee haaa!

So at what point does defense not matter anymore when your team cant score runs?

In fielding the Yankees are #19, WhiteSox #20, Cincy #21, Minn #25, Boston #26.

Yes its nice to have defense when you can get it but if you have defense and no offense its not helping you one single bit.

You need hitting to win, you dont need great fielding to win.

What has helped Detroit the most this year? Being #30 in defense? Or ranked #5 in offense this year?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

94 Years and Counting wonders why Todd Walker isn't hearing the boo birds?

Well mainly because Todd Walker has no expectations on his shoulders. Too most Cubs fans Mark Grudz is a lot better even though Walker has near identical fielding stats and swings a much better stick. Patterson has the expectations of living up to his first half last year. Derek Lee has the expectations of being the 50 HR first basemen that many Cubs fans thought he should be.

While Todd Walker's batting average is now down around the likes of Patterson and Lee he still has a .350 OBP, and doesn't strike out much. Which is a breath of fresh air from watching Patterson and Lee strike out so much. Couple that with Sammy Sosa, A-gonz, Am-Ram, and a few others this team doesn't make enough contact.

I think the fans appreciate a guy who can work the count and put the ball in play even if his hits aren't dropping. Its a hell of a lot better than a whiff at the plate.

Ofcourse this is my opinion. It could be fans love mullets, just like fans can't bring themselves to boo A-gonz because he is sooooooooooo cute. -rolls eyes- Who said fans weren't shallow?

And Another Thing! wasn't to happy with Patterson today in the field.

If you didn't see it, let me describe these two plays to you. So Taguchi led off the inning with what should have been a routine fly to Corey. He didn't turn the wrong way. He didn't misjudge it. He basically ignored it until it flew way over his head for a triple. Howard, Jeff and I were staring at him in disbelief.

I can say that is flat wrong about the first play. Taguchi slapped a base hit and Patterson was running over to cut it off like any other base hit. The ball hit the grass and didn't bounce back up like it normally does. Instead the ball hit the grass flattened out and accelerated. This also happened to the Cardinals in the game before.

From Redbird Nation: ... Taguchi's single becomes a triple b/c of a divot in right center. Second time in two days we've seen e.g. of poor Wrigley turf. Did ZZ Top play here last night?

Jim Edmonds was the victim that time.

Cubs bloggers roasted Wendell Kim for sending (which he didn't) Macias, you know because Kim sends everyone, just like any thing bad that happens to Patterson is because he is a jerk and trying to show off. Nothing is ever out of their control, once bad always bad. So its perfectly fine to jump on their case even when they did nothing wrong.

I have no idea about the second play because after the triple I turned over to watch Reagan being brought to Washington. It just sounds like Womack hit the ball in the right spot and Al was still pissed off about the earlier play.

The Cubs got gift runs in the other game, the Cardinals got gift runs in this game. Like I say, Baseball has a way of evening things out. Take it when it happens in your favor, shrug it off when it happens against you.

View from the Bleachers posts on the reaction of Billy Koch to Latroy Hawkins comments.

"What, I can't set up and fail in the closers role? . . . He did it miserably a few years ago (in Minnesota)."

Hehehe, check out his whole post.

What the Cub Reporter is to Cubs blogs, the Redbird Nation is to Cardinals blogs.

On that note I enjoy reading Redbird nation alot of times. To me its like reading what The Cub Reporter has some how lost. Much more personal and hands on.

So its always interesting to get takes from the opposing side. Check out the Redbird Nations game notes, and any time they are playing the Cubs.

Tying run at the plate -- Baker bats GLENDON RUSH??? Alternatives on the bench: Bako, Macias, DuBois, and Ordonez. Dusty bats the pitcher so he can save his real hitters for some hypothetical situation down the line??? [As it turns out, three of those guys never do come to the plate. Poor tactics.]

I have to agree. Tough 12-4 loss today. has the letters up from military people in Iraq and all over the world.

Our soldiers are doing an awesome job helping to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq. I support the troops and their mission of promoting democracy over dictatorships. I am not some half wit who says they support the troops but not the mission. If you dont support the mission, then you dont support democracy and freedom.

I am sure that will ruffle the feathers of some members of the CBA guys but frankly they have been ruffling my feathers for their non-stop bashing of Bush.

This is how the town of Colorado Springs welcomed home its troops.

Some quotes from the crowd:

"You look at these guys, and you know they've been through a lot," he said. "You take for granted what we have in the U.S."

"I just appreciate them," she said. "I think the American people don't know what they have over here, the freedom."

I think alot of people take for granted what we have in America. That is a shame.

Dan McGrath of the Chicago Tribune says dont pull a Lou Brock with Corey Patterson.

The late, great Daily News was celebrating the Cubs' acquisition of Ernie Broglio, a durable, accomplished right-handed pitcher who had gone 67-50 for the St. Louis Cardinals between 1959 and 1963.

The cost? Only Lou Brock, a moody, underachieving, young (25) outfielder, a .258 hitter over two-plus seasons, a slightly built left-handed swinger who struck out three times as often as he walked and seemed fixated on going deep when he should have been harnessing and utilizing his great speed.


Try to remember he's 24 years old. It's a hard game he's trying to play, and some get it later than others. The torn-up knee hardly hastened his development.

I have tried explaining that point. It goes in one ear and out the other on most people.

A very cool wrap up by And Another Thing! of last nights game. Including something about a strange tomato linked to Cubs hitting. We will have to see if this theory holds true.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Sammy Sosa looks like he will be returning soon

Sammy Sosa hit seven balls out of the park Tuesday in his first batting practice session since he went out with a back injury May 16 in San Diego. One blast reached the camera shed in center field.

And he might even go to Iowa. But will Ivy Chat change his stance if Sammy goes?

Sources close to Sosa say he might be persuaded to do a minor-league rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa, perhaps this weekend. Sosa said he didn't know when he would return to the Cubs, although the Cubs-Astros series in Houston beginning Monday appears a possibility.

We will see.

Hawkins says he isn't talking to the media anymore.

"That's it, I'm not talking anymore," Hawkins said Monday. "I've got nothing else to say to the media. That's why I did this [interview]. I'm completely done. Don't hover around my locker. I'm not going to be a guy to talk every day like Joe [Borowski]. I'm not talking. I just want to do my job and go home."

Awww can't handle the pressure of the spotlight? How the hell you going to close games when all eyes are on you? Ohhh thats right the last year Hawkins was a closer he had a 5.96 ERA.

I hope he is just being a baby, and this isn't a sign of things to come. Ohh but it gets even better, with a little bit of "I am better than you," speech.

"It doesn't matter what happens in the ninth, as long as you don't give up the lead. I don't care who's sitting on the edge of their seat, I'm not going to apologize for putting you on the edge of your seat like [White Sox closer Billy] Koch did a couple of weeks ago. I'm not going to apologize for that, because I can do what you guys can do, [but] you can't do what I do."

Get that philosophy? I can comment and make questions just like the stupid reporters and if you stupid reporters cant pitch 93 MPH, then you have no business talking to me. Way to endeer yourself to the fans and the local media.

Hawkins should of just kept his mouth shut and not said a word in an interview where he was saying he would keep his mouth shut. Because now he better damn well be perfect or he is going to get roasted by the fans and the media. Good luck living up to those expectations Hawkins, you just doubled the pressure on yourself.

Don't blame Wendell Kim for sending Macias home in last nights game.

"I had just told him to tag up, and he goes," said third-base coach Wendell Kim. "He's looking at the ball, and he goes."

Nevertheless, Kim said he'd take responsibility for the out at the plate. Often criticized as being overly aggressive, Kim said he'd like to have scored Macias on the previous play.

I was questioning whether Kim had sent him also. Just like And Another Thing! said in his after game post. I would of bet money on Kim sending him. After all Wendell Kim tried to get a guy to score from second on a sac fly earlier this year and I believe that was against Jim Edmonds also.

Monday, June 07, 2004

North Side Baseball runs down a list of players who could be available for trade.

The usual names of Vizquel, and Cabrera pop up. But I think this team is going to need a major morale boost, via a significant trade, to give this Cubs team a kick in the ass.

I say again, If Jim Hendry is serious about winning this year it is down right criminal to let Carlos Beltran slip thru like Scott Rolen and Jim Thome. Am-Ram and D. Lee are nice consolation prizes but they are not elite and they sure as hell aren't consistent at the plate.

The Carlos Beltran sweepstakes are heating up with the Marlins trying to get involved.

Nope, sorry not a word of interest from the Cubs camp, but there is this little bit.

Tigers closer Ugueth Urbina could emerge as a reasonable trade option for the Cubs. But the Tigers might prefer to keep Urbina in an effort to finish .500, exercise his $4 million option and then trade him in the offseason.

If the Cubs wanted Urbina they could of easily signed him in the spring. They Cubs will not trade for him by giving up prospects now and paying cash.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Even our military can follow the Cubs.

"I hope that while they're tuning in, we can give them something to think about other than what they're going through," Barrett said. "I hope we can do something to help some of the time pass away. They're out there away from their families and it has to be lonely. I'm glad we can give them some entertainment. I can't imagine what they're going through."

Thanks for all the emails from U.S. soldiers stationed far from Wrigley Field. We're going to compile them soon for the site.

Cool, cant wait to see that.

Borowski is now on the DL

"It's not like a sharp pain or anything like that," the right-hander said. "It's more a dull feeling, like you're carrying a weight around with you. I just started noticing it was taking longer to come back.

"Normally, my arm bounces right back," Borowski said. "After you throw, that night you feel sore but it's been taking longer to come back. It's not coming back 100 percent."

Lots of people have speculated that Borowski has been hiding an injury since spring training, looks like they were correct.

End the Drought has a nice post on how the Cubs/Dusty Baker are being more careful with pitch counts.

Currently, the Cubs have thrown 13 pitches, 11 of those came with Wood against the Reds, when he was ejected/suspended, the other two were by Zambrano. They are currently on pace for 39 pitches (as 54 games is exactly 33% complete), this is a dramatic drop-off compared to the 157 pitches they accumulated last year (not including the post-season).

I am a firm believer in pitch counts. If your pitcher gets into the 120+ range often during the season you substantially increase his chances of injury later in his career. No question last year Wood and Prior were often seen in the 120, 130, and even the 140 range, so it was no big surprise to me they both suffered injuries. The purists will scoff, and point to the hall of famers who pitched 300 to 400 innings a year without getting injured. It is just a different generation today.

Read his whole post, he even gets a writer from the Daily Herald to chip in.

Looks like Hawkins is in and Borowski is out.

"I know Joe is doing the very best he can," manager Dusty Baker said. "Something's not there right now. It's killing Joe. People don't know what it's like to struggle your whole career [in the minors] and get to that point and then not be able to perform the way you can perform.

"We might have to make a change soon to relieve Joe and find out what's wrong. They say it's nothing. I kind of hope it's something, so we can get to the bottom of it."

I still think Francisco Beltran should be the closer, so we can have Hawkins more available for sticky situations in the earlier innings.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Wood still not ready. Baker to think about the Borowski situation. And Sosa swings in BP, still not sure of when he will return.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Aisle 528 did a post about a Reds blog site called Reds Roundup who does more crying about the Cubs than his own team.

I did a post about how he is probably a disgruntled White Sox fan. Turns out, I was dead on the money. I had never visited any other site on the MVN network until today when I did a google search of my site that brought me to the The Whitesox Times. This blog is written by Charles Rector who also writes Reds Roundup.

So i decided to go back and check the comments of the post I made and saw this.

Charles Rector was our former White Sox Times correspondent. For personal reasons, we decided to make a change. Charles was nice enough to offer to take over the Reds blog while we searched for a writer.

I dont know what kind of horse and pony show the MVN guys are running. But taking a guy who rants about the Cubs 75% of the time and 25% Whitesox and then making him the Reds blogger who rants 75% of the time about the Cubs and 25% about the Reds really doesnt help them attract readers. Its neither informative nor gives his readers or the MVN guys serious credibility. Charles Rector looks like more of a jack ass by trying to write for 2 teams while keeping his same theme of pure negativity about the Cubs.

If MVN just gave him a blog that was titled the Anti-Cubs Web Blog he would probably get a loyal following of people who just want to hear rotten news about the Cubs. Instead they try and pass him off as a guy who truely cares and wants to bring more information to the Whitesox and Reds community. It insults fans of those teams looking for information about their team. In my world they call that a scam. MVN should be ashamed.

UPDATE: Charles Rector isn't making any fans in the Cubs Blogger Army. Public Enemy #1? Though judging by his writing, he isnt out to win any freinds on the Cubs side, so he probably doesnt give a spider monkey's damn.

Which players in baseball are considered to have the best glove work? According to this article a few Cubs are on that list.

Derek Lee is one of them.

Among the reviews: "Aircraft-carrier range," said Pirates GM Dave Littlefield. ... "No weakness," said Expos GM Omar Minaya, "especially because of his size." ... "As good as there is," said the Mets' Todd Zeile. ... "Makes it look so easy," said Lee's former teammate, Montreal infielder Andy Fox. "Put (a throw) anywhere in the stadium, and there's a pretty good chance he's going to pick it."

Greg Maddux also makes the list, big surprise there.

One player I see Cubs fans diss on as being over rated with the glove is Omar Vizquel.

But in the end, nobody could outpoll a man with nine Gold Gloves. Among Vizquel's reviews: "A gymnast over there," Muser said. ... "A magician," said one GM who didn't want to be named. "His hands and awareness are second to none." ... "Best barehand ever," said Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. ... "When Vizquel and Alomar were together," said Williams, "it was just ridiculous."

Read the whole article some surprises, some no brainers.

Northside Lounge has his take on todays return of Mark Prior and the game.

No more excuses. If Joe Borowski pitches in one more key situation where Remlinger, Farnsworth, or Hawkins are options, Dusty is to blame. Not Joe. Not fate. Dusty. Borowski is getting hammered every time out.

I have to agree. Make Francisco Beltran the closer!!

Update: Big Red C isnt too happy unless your name is Prior or Alou.

A spider monkey with one arm and a bamboo bat gets a runner in from third with less than two outs 80% of the time. Seriously. I've seen the research.

That must be one hell of a monkey. Slap a Cubs uniform on him!

Update: Still another disgruntled Cubs fan. This time Cubs Now!

The Cubs in the ninth lead off with the unlikely heroics of Jose Macias's double, decide "hey, let's not let Walker try to drive the ball to right" but make him bunt. Dusty leaves the game in the hands of Lee and Patterson. Think about that for a second. The two most disappointing players in the lineup. Two pop ups later and I'm sick of watching this team.

Finally, some blame gets laid down upon Derek Lee's shoulders!! Cheer up man, the season isnt even half over with yet.

Update: Keeping with the running theme of Borowski's blown save End the Drought has some stats that compare him to the other closers in baseball. None of it is very surprising, but puts some perspective on the situation. A must read.

If you want an inning by inning report of todays game check this out. Including...

Borowski will face Kendall to lead off the ninth. Kendall works the count full and Chip is already reading the credits. A true jinx move.

Later in the inning.

Joe Blownsaveski leaves to a cascade of boos.

You knew it had to end badly, and it did.

People who are booing Corey Patterson do realize that Derek Lee is just as horrible at the plate don't they?

As of today's game Derek Lee is batting .257 with 42 SO's. 13 RBI coming in 4 games and 14 RBI in his 48 other games.

Corey Patterson is batting .257 with 44 SO's.

If you are one of the people booing Patterson you should be booing Derek Lee also. The Cubs are paying him $6 million dollars for Corey Patterson style production, you shouldn't cheer him.

Granted Lee has a .340 OBP to Patterson's .316, they are both hitting the same and both striking out at the same rate, yet Patterson gets the brunt end of the criticism.

The only thing saving Lee is that he is a notoriously slow starter. Patterson hasn't played long enough for us to find out if that is true with him. But if your going to boo Patterson for his SO's and poor hitting, make sure you throw some towards Derek Lee, dont be a hippocrit and accuse one guy of it and let another one off the hook.

View From the Bleachers catches a blurb in the news most of us missed about Rey Ordonez

"There is plenty of Rey Ordonez left," Baker said. "He's young, and I hear he was playing real good [at Iowa]. He was playing good last year in Tampa Bay [before a season-ending injury]."

This should scare the crap out of most Cubs fans. Could he be our starting SS in 2005 and beyond?

Read Joseph's whole post.

Baker: It's up to Patterson to figure things out.

"He shouldn't have even been here until last year," Baker said. "We want people to figure it out when we want to figure it out. It's just like your kids. You want your kids to figure it out before they leave home. Some of them don't figure it out until they're 30. Some of them figure it out at 15. Should a guy figure it out? Everybody's pace is different."

"We want people to figure it out when we want to figure it out." Huh? No wonder Patterson is confused, Baker cant even explain it to him like a normal manager.

Baker: Figure it out!

Patterson: Figure what out?

Baker: What you dont know? Nobody knows!

Big Red C says he is going through a rough streak in a writing capacity. Though by the looks of his blog he looks fine to me.

He links to another blog with a timeline on Patterson.

Well worth a read.

Northside Lounge comments on the return of Prior and the surging Reds in his latest post, including this little bit.

Lastly, I am usually not all that impressed with the car decals showing Calvin urinating on things. Most of the time a hated Nascar driver or alternate brand of truck is the object subjected to the stream, but I saw a Volvo with Calvin relieving himself on the name "Bud Selig" on the way to work today. Cool.